Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see Enerflex Ltd. (TSE:EFX) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next four days. The ex-dividend date is one business day before a company's record date, which is the date on which the company determines which shareholders are entitled to receive a dividend. The ex-dividend date is important as the process of settlement involves two full business days. So if you miss that date, you would not show up on the company's books on the record date. Therefore, if you purchase Enerflex's shares on or after the 18th of August, you won't be eligible to receive the dividend, when it is paid on the 7th of October.
The company's upcoming dividend is CA$0.02 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of CA$0.08 per share to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Enerflex has a trailing yield of approximately 1.0% on its current stock price of CA$7.92. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.
Dividends are typically paid out of company income, so if a company pays out more than it earned, its dividend is usually at a higher risk of being cut. Enerflex paid out just 14% of its profit last year, which we think is conservatively low and leaves plenty of margin for unexpected circumstances. Yet cash flow is typically more important than profit for assessing dividend sustainability, so we should always check if the company generated enough cash to afford its dividend. It paid out 4.2% of its free cash flow as dividends last year, which is conservatively low.
It's positive to see that Enerflex's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Stocks with flat earnings can still be attractive dividend payers, but it is important to be more conservative with your approach and demand a greater margin for safety when it comes to dividend sustainability. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. With that in mind, we're not enthused to see that Enerflex's earnings per share have remained effectively flat over the past five years. Better than seeing them fall off a cliff, for sure, but the best dividend stocks grow their earnings meaningfully over the long run.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Enerflex's dividend payments per share have declined at 10% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring.
Has Enerflex got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? Earnings per share have been flat, although at least the company is paying out a low and conservative percentage of both its earnings and cash flow. It's definitely not great to see earnings falling, but at least there may be some buffer before the dividend gets cut. While it does have some good things going for it, we're a bit ambivalent and it would take more to convince us of Enerflex's dividend merits.
So while Enerflex looks good from a dividend perspective, it's always worthwhile being up to date with the risks involved in this stock. To help with this, we've discovered 1 warning sign for Enerflex that you should be aware of before investing in their shares.
A common investment mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a list of promising dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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